I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
Dave, you said it best! Every pro painting contractor truly worth their salt would and should cut and paste exactly what you say here about where customary and legitimate practices and expectations should be in regards to what customers should expect from contractors and how contractors should professionally deal with their customers. By the way, Dave, if you work in the Atlanta area, I would like to hire you! Thank you for your valuable advice!
Transitioning your painting business away from these mistakes can be difficult, but I guarantee you it’s worth it. You’ll look back at your business and say, ‘How did I even operate that way?’ Once you start doing things more efficiently and reaping the benefits, you’ll be UNABLE to return to your old ways of running things. Try eliminating just 2 of these mistakes and see what happens!
When selecting a color scheme for the home’s exterior homeowners can choose color options that will correct flaws that they may feel exist with their home and property.  Some examples include utilizing two shades of a single color to make a home appear appropriately sized when the home may be too large or too tall.  To accomplish this effect individuals will want to place the darker tone on the upper level of the home’s exterior.  Smaller windows can appear more proportionately sized by trimming them in a lighter tone of paint.  Darker colors make a space or feature appear smaller.  The same effect can be obtained for homes positioned further away from a curb.  By using lighter tones the home will not feel camouflaged.
The speed with which a painter can complete the job will determine its final cost, but time is difficult to estimate. Some painters have more experience and cover a wall faster, but some are more methodical and take more time. Most painters should be able to cover about 100 to 120 square feet of flat surface in an hour, unless they are working on a very large wall. Wood or plaster might reduce that amount to 80 to 100 square feet. You should also consider the time required for a first coat to dry before a second coat may be applied. This will add time as well -- anywhere from one to 48 hours depending on the paint.
I do not mean to come off with an edge, however, this is an article for people hiring low bid, uninsured, one man band painters out to "hustle" a buck. Hire reputable, established companies or hire someone you know or have a strong referral from. If you are arguing over watered down paint, ticky, tacky deposits, buying your own supplies, you have hired the wrong guy.
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.
basic formula? single color exterior labor only ranges from $0.85 to $0.95 per sq foot as a BASE starting point. Prices go up depending on multiple colors, slope of surrounding areas, multiple stories..etc.Some painters charge per window to mask off. Ive seen $25 a window to $50.  Interiors without flooring can be factored the same way. When you start having to do multiple colors, cut ins, masking, room isolation...etc. the price jumps considerably. I always start with a base of $0.85 a sq foot and figure it out from there. the season plays a major role too. paint and materials are charged separatly and are typically marked up at a minimum of 15%. I always tell clients this. that way they pick the paint out they want and what quality they want as well. Anyways...thats your base. 1250 sq foot home @ .0.95 a ft = $1,187.50 (one color). Pressure washing, Add another $45-$55 per hour. a 1250 sq ft home is not going to take longer than 2-3 hours if its a single story. 
IF the average cost is $1700 to paint an interior, then that means the cost of paint is approx. $200 (12% of the job).  Or better said 5 gallons of paint (if the average cost is $40 retail).  The average room takes 1.5 gallons which will cover 3 average rooms.  Doesn't sound to average to anyone with knowledge of this industry or a average house.  You are misleading consumers and should do a better job in your research.  No wonder so pay people think prices to get work done by professionals is high.  Its not high, its actually average which is more like $3700.

Our project foreman, as well as our staff, are full time, professional house painters which means that our attention to detail is second to none when it comes to your project. From selecting the right date to start the project, colors, project staging through to completion, we concern ourselves with every single aspect to make sure that your complete satisfaction has been reached. We will not stop until it has been achieved.
I do not mean to come off with an edge, however, this is an article for people hiring low bid, uninsured, one man band painters out to "hustle" a buck. Hire reputable, established companies or hire someone you know or have a strong referral from. If you are arguing over watered down paint, ticky, tacky deposits, buying your own supplies, you have hired the wrong guy.
The article and comments were great information to have before deciding how to go about getting a painting job done. I think the important point is that there are several key choices (who to do the work; color, sheen, quality, of paint; how many coats; amount of prep/repairs to be done and by whom, how long the job will take, provisions for changes, how detailed the contract needs to be; advanced deposit/progress payments/final payment; final inspection, etc.) that need to be made and it requires advanced research and planning in order to become well enough informed to make the right choices. Then it requires spending sufficient time to check materials and inspect the quality of the work while it is on-going, raher than waiting to do it all at the end. President Reagan's philosophy of "Trust, but verify." applies.

Federal law requires all renovation, repair, and painting firms (including sole proprietorships) working in housing, or facilities where children are routinely present, built before 1978, to be certified. Firm certification is a key requirement to ensure the training of individuals and the use of lead-safe work practices.  Firms must apply to EPA for certification to perform renovations or dust sampling. To apply, a firm must submit a completed application and fee to EPA online. 
There are permanent features of the home that have their own colors which cannot be changed when painting the exterior of the home but can have a dramatic satisfaction level that is experienced when the painting is completed.  Roofing shingles, paving blocks, concrete surfaces, stones and other such features are prime examples of the colors that should be considered when selecting your exterior color scheme for the home.  Homeowners can work off of these colors to make a home that looks uniform and luxurious when the exterior painting is complete.
DON"T EVER PAINT THE WALLS TO FRESHEN UP YOUR HOME & NEGLECT THE TRIM, MOULDING & DOORS DO NOT HIRE PEOPLE BASED ON THEIR WORD ALONE, IN THESE TIMES IT IS NOT ENOUGH. DON'T AGREE TO PAY HOURLY NOR HALF UPFRONT...FOR PAINT ETC..LOL OR THEY MAY NEVER SHOW UP AGAIN. IF A COMPANY ASK HOW MANY EMPLOYESS WILL BE PAINTING THE HOUSE SO YOU CAN GET A MORE ACCURATE TIME FRAME TO COMPLETE JOB. NOW I NEED TO HIRE SOMEONE TO CLEAN UP A FRIEND OF A FRIEND'S MESS WORK WAS SUBPAR. ALWAYS ASK TO SEE LICENSE AS ALOT OF THOSE I INTERVIEWED CLAIMED ON THE PHONE TO HAVE JUST SO THEY COULD CHARGE MORE, & GAIN ACCESS . THEN THE SALEMAN SIDE COMES OUT. WHEN QUESTIONED FOR PROOF THEY THEN WANT TO NEGIOTATE PRICE. ASK IF RECALKING THE WINDOWS IS INCLUDED IN PRICE...
This all comes down to the rules.....1. references....does the contractor have them??? I ALWAYS furnish all my prospective customers them....no excuses...2. insurance....again, I always furnish proof....3. Read the proposal carefully...I ALWAYS list materials down to tape used, the brand, the grit of sandpaper, the manufacturer, etc....its INEXCUSABLE to not list all of these items....I am a member of the PDCA, the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, the foremost authority in the coatings industry and they also approve of what I listed....if you do not follow these guidelines, you will NOT get a job reflective of "professional". Look for the PDCA where any painting contractors are, if they are not a member, RUN!
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